Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, is just a few days away. Last year during Lent I focused on the virtue of hope in these Reflections. It is that theme I would like to pick up this morning with a quote from a letter written by the poet Robert Browning to his secret fiancé Elizabeth in February 1846:
‘Slowly and gradually’ what may not be done? Then see the bright weather while I write—lilacs, hawthorn, plum-trees all in bud; elders in leaf, rose-bushes with great red shoots; thrushes, whitethroats, hedge sparrows in full song—there can, let us hope, be nothing worse in store than a sharp wind, a week of it perhaps—and then comes what shall come—”*
Elizabeth had written to him describing her dependence on morphine. He was keen to encourage her to reduce that dependence and to get outdoors more, as she had been housebound for some while. He was seeking to engender in her a feeling of hope; that a brighter future lay beyond the four walls of her rooms, without reliance on the drug.
Walking round the garden here I can echo some of Robert’s thoughts, the daffodils are coming into bloom, the birds are indeed ‘in full song’ and the ‘rose bushes [are] with great red shoots’.‘Let us hope’, he says. We can see that hope all around us, in the warm sunny Spring morning, in the garden plants and bird song, in the people we meet in the street or in our everyday lives. Easter Sunday will prove to us, and to the world, that the light that shines in the darkness has overcome it. Let us look forward in hope for that glorious day.
* from “The Letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Barrett, Vol. 1 (of 2) 1845-1846”, available on Kindle or online.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years